One of those friends was Patrick Samphire, who was one of my Clarion West classmates and one of my favorite short story authors. He is also a designer and has a business building websites. As a short story author, he's got a lot of inventory that he can sell online. Kindle and Nook are great venues to make your short story backlist available. It used to be that once you sold a short story, it often disappeared. Maybe if it did well, or if you did well, you could sell reprints, but often it just disappeared into oblivion once the magazine or anthology it was featured in goes out of print.
While it's easy enough to publish a short story electronically, it'll need a cover, and a good cover will cost a few hundred dollars. Rarely does a short story have that kind of earning potential short term, so those of us who publish our short stories must often design our own covers. Here was my first attempt, with my story, Polar Shift:
I spent the whole evening photoshopping those auroras over a NASA photo of Ganymede. I was a little daring with the font - but to cut to the chase here, it looks amateurish. Some might not admit it to my face (Mom) but I know it looks like something I just did myself at home. After doing this cover, I was not eager to upload more short stories, and I wished I earned enough money to hire Tiger Bright Studios to do the rest. (And no, Jenn, that is not a ploy to get you to offer me a deal, because you make little enough money from me as it is!)
But then I got the chance to talk about cover design with Patrick, who is about to launch his own cover design business, and he gave me one piece of advice that I'll never forget. He said, "The trick to cover design is staring at images until you find the perfect one, then keep the title font simple, and people will think you're amazing." I don't know if I'd go that far. His covers are amazing. Mine, after his advice, while not amazing, are much, much better. Here's what I did with the cover for Polar Shift:
Moreover, I had a ton of fun designing it because I got to look through hundreds and hundreds of stock images until I found the exact one I wanted. I had so much fun that I decided to design the cover for my next short story, which will be out later this week or early next (depending on how much free time I can get in the evenings to convert it.) This story, called Root, is about a girl who must battle with an evil demon who turns all computer-kind against her. Yes, she's based on me, and computers lose her files, screw up her exams, and make her life pure torture. The little Root demon looks like a fox, so here's what I did for that cover:
So much fun to do! Now I'm not dreading cover design. I'm no genius at it, but I'm at least producing better than I thought I could.
Anyway, I went indie to see what kinds of skills I could pick up, and cover design is a rather surprising one. I recommend Patrick's blogpost on cover design for more detailed information, or if you're like me and a little lost by that, I echo his advice, just look at lots of pictures until you find one that speaks to you. The end result for me is covers that I like, at least.
Very cool! I like your cover image for Root, the disconnect between the fox-image and the completely different word, that at first glimpse seems to have nothing to do with foxes, would make me want to click on it and find out more.ReplyDelete
I was wondering if you'd gone to EasterCon, as I'd heard GRRM was there. Looks like you did, and benefitted greatly from it, too. :-)
Have you seen The Hunger Games yet? I went on Easter Monday and thought it was a really good film, both in and of itself, and as an adaptation of the book.
Hi Melanie! Yes, I got to see George and his wife, Parris, and two other friends from Albuquerque, John and Gail Miller. And yes, I love Hunger Games. I have a monthly movie pass (for a flat rate I can see as many movies as I want) and I saw it four times :-)Delete
A monthly movie pass? Wow -- I'd almost wish that I could get one of those here. But I have trouble finding more than one movie about every four months that I want to watch, so ... *shrug* Still, I'm amazed that you've seen The Hunger Games four times already! What other movies are you looking forward to? I'm thinking maybe this Prometheus.Delete
Yeah, I went with all of my friends and family who wanted to see it, and they couldn't all make the same showing. I'm not sure what other movies I'll want to see. I should want to see Cabin in the Woods as it's written and directed by a childhood friend, but I don't do horror.Delete
I agree. I've been a webdesigner for a decade, so I got the enough experience to handle images, layers, font, effects, etc. But even now, it's not easy to give a cover book that natural look. You know, that looks more like a photography instead of images mash-up.ReplyDelete
Hi Yunnuen! Yes, composite images are well beyond my abilities :-)Delete
You said to just look at lots of pictures until you find the perfect one? Where do you find all these pictures?ReplyDelete
I use ShutterStock.com, but there are probably a bunch of providers of stock art and photos. They were just the first one I found. The cost of a subscription is very modest and the image library is enormous.Delete